HSKlevel Review

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to share a website that I’ve been developing for the past two years. It’s called HSKlevel and allows you to test your Chinese level and vocabulary. You can take the test on www.hsklevel.com.

About HSKlevel
The test consists of 60 vocabulary questions like the one below. The questions automatically adapt to your level. You can choose simplified or traditional characters.

After completing the 60 questions (which takes ~5 minutes), you get your results:

  • How many words you know
  • How many characters your know
  • How many words you know for each HSK 2.0 level, HSK 3.0 level and TOCFL level
  • How much you can understand from different sources (movies, social media, literature, newspaper, blogs)
  • Your progression if you take the test several times (see e.g. @Kelly-Mandarin-HSK_3 's impressive progression on this topic).

For now, the test is only about vocabulary testing and does not test your pronunciation or grammar. Note that this is a self-testing app, so you can take the test several times with several approaches: once for your active vocabulary and once for your passive vocabulary for example. The test is free but if you enjoy it and want to support the project, you can make a small donation.

About me
My name’s François-Pierre (but you can just call me Pierre), I’m a French 26 year old engineer and I’ve been learning Chinese since I was 12. I started learning at school, but when I went to China in 2011 with my classmates and teacher, I realized that after 4 years of studying only at school my level was quite poor. So when I got back to France, I started to study Mandarin by myself and passed the HSK 4 a few months later. Then I started studying maths and physics at university and did not have much time nor motivation to study Chinese. But 3 years ago I started my PhD in artificial intelligence and while I wanted to get back to learning Chinese, I hadn’t studied any Chinese for so may years so I wanted to assess my current level. And that’s how I created this little test, that I’ve been developing and improving over the past years. I’m continuously improving the AI algorithm behind the test so that it becomes more and more precise in its estimation.

I’d be more than happy to read your comments and feedbacks about the test :slight_smile:


Wow, it says I know 1900 words. Hackchinese of today says 1888 strong words.


Hey Pierre!

Thank you so much for creating this. One of the short and sweet webpage just to give a rough gauge where one’s Mandarin abilities.

I saw this in reddit previously and yup quite happy with it. You do you and wish you continued success and motivation!



Hello @Pierre-Mandarin_Simplified_HSK and welcome to the forums!

Would you mind sharing a little about how the AI algorithm works? I am impressed at how close the estimate is to both Hack Chinese and Skritter (and shocked that it thinks I’m HSK 6 on the new test).


I’m not! :wink:

Welcome to the forum @Pierre-Mandarin_Simplified_HSK and thanks for sharing. This will undoubtedly be a superb tool for everyone who finds it.


Bienvenue sur le forum !

This is a such a great tool! My experience with Chinese learning is quite similar to yours with ups and downs, intense periods of study and others where I didn’t speak/read Chinese for months at a time, so I wish I had a tool like this years ago to help assess my level :see_no_evil:

I am certain this will help a lot of students, and I am very happy you came to the Forum to introduce it to everyone.

Bonne continuation :handshake:


Nice results! To be honest I don’t think the test can be that precise, if you were to take it again it’d probably say 1800 or 2000 words, but it’s nice seeing that it gives the right order of magnitude. Good luck with your Chinese studies :slight_smile:


Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement! Wish you all the best in your Mandarin studies!

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Merci Marine ! :slight_smile:

I still struggle a bit when it comes to being regular in my learning :grimacing: But slowly I’m making progress and that’s all that matters.

Bonne continuation à toi aussi dans tes apprentissages des langues :handshake:


Thank you Max :slight_smile:

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Thank you for the warm welcome Ben! And congrats on your HSK 6 level!

I’ve developed a mathematical model that models one’s knowledge of Chinese words. The questions during the test are chosen so as to 1) adapt to your level and 2) be diverse enough. Then I fit the model on the user’s answers (using maximum likelihood estimation if you know about it), et voilà!

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It’s a very cool tool Pierre, thanks very much!

I was wondering, does it build on the previous answers each time, or is each session a new session?

Also, interested in when to use “so-so”. Typically I use it when I’m not 100% on the meaning but I could interpret the meaning from the word from the two individual characters I know, or if I’m very wrong on the tones.

I similarly to Ben have ended up around new HSK 6:

  • HSK 2.0: HSK 5
  • HSK 3.0: HSK 6
  • TOCFL: TOCFL Band B.2

I think the model is starting to adjusting down to my level (9750 → 9500 → 7900 over the last weeks) which in fairness I think is not too far off

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Thank you Chloe for the nice review and congrats on your very good results :slight_smile:

Each session is independent from the others, so the results are only based on the 60 questions of the test. That’s why taking the test several times can lead to different results. Also, the test is less precise (but still quite accurate I think) for advanced learners : but I’m working on improving that, I’ll post some news on this thread when I update the algorithm.

Also, interested in when to use “so-so”. Typically I use it when I’m not 100% on the meaning but I could interpret the meaning from the word from the two individual characters I know, or if I’m very wrong on the tones.

I have no clear answer to that, remember this is a self-testing app so it’s up to you to be harsh on yourself or not (but the results will change depending on how harsh on yourself you are). The way I use the “So-so” button is when I’m wrong on the pinyin/tones or when I kinda know the word but the meaning is not exactly clear or I can’t remember it exactly. This would be equivalent to the “difficult” button in Anki. When there is a word I clearly don’t know, but would have been able to guess the meaning of, I prefer to click the “No” button because I just don’t know the word and I wouldn’t have been able to recognize it in speech (let alone use it).


Interesting, thanks Pierre! Yes I was more harsh the third time around hence the lower result.

So far if I get the pinyin wrong I had put it as wrong, even if I know the meaning, but a tone error I will allow a So-so. I think my bar has been “could you understand this in reading/speech”.

Good point on whether you could use the word yourself though. That is one point I have been wondering about my building number of vocabulary anyway :joy: not sure I could happily use my words in a conversation but I would understand most when listening. Probably a similar issue that many learners have! Interested if anyone has any tips for this in general too


Hi Chloe, my thoughts on building vocabulary.

I am extremely happy with hackchinese.

When I have time I try to think about an example sentence for every word.

I write my own into the notes.

I try to use new words as soon as possible in a lesson or my language learning conversations, which I will soon start again with a Chinese friend. (And hackchinese has this feature that you can send all your “hard to remember” words to someone, or I will do a screenshot of my “recently learned”.)

Important for me: I try to read and write in different fonts. I am not always aware of all the tiny components of a character, (but I try hard to), and it happens that I don’t recognize the easiest characters, only because it is broader or bold or something.

So, back to hackchinese: I love the review phase when my “first round words” reappear. I feel confident that I can stay on top of my whole vocab. I must laugh when I discover I can’t remember an HSK1 character, (- there are two that I forget regularly, haha.)
Listening - no problem for you, obviously. I listen to sentences or paragraphs and check the text afterwards. LTL audios, increasingly to “Du”, and HSK videos on youtube. My problem still is, that I often can’t identify even well learned words when they are melted in a sentence melody.

@Hack-Chinese-Daniel has promised to do also the other way round some time in the future. E to Ch, which can’t work as perfectly for many reasons, but will be extremely useful anyway.

@Pierre-Mandarin_Simplified_HSK - so doing your test regularly is another possibility to gain confidence. The font is different, and of course there are many characters I have never seen before, there are many I try to guess anyway and look at the components. That is an interesting approach to see how confident I am with what I think I should know.


@Pierre-Mandarin_Simplified_HSK hello just did the test. I was quite harsh but the soso button was a bit hard for me to define too.
One feedback I was asked 训 twice.

Super interesting analytics at the end of the test and overall amazing software. Very impressive


Hi Pierre, depending on how far you want to take this tool I’d be happy to write a review for this on our website and promote this via our newsletter. We could get you some nice traction here.

We love to promote tools we like and it seems your one is proving to be very popular.

Let me know if you are interested, you can reply here or email me ([email protected])


Hi Pierre,

Great job on the website! I tried it twice and it was really awesome. I’m not familiar with computing / software terms, so please pardon me if I didn’t explain this clearly.

I can feel that when I didn’t know some of the words, the software automatically adjusted the level down a bit before gradually increased the level again.
I like that there are many different categories of words, including some short phrases, too. It really forced me to slow down and think of the words carefully, rather than trying to answer as quickly as possible :slight_smile:

My result was as below:

  • HSK 2.0*: HSK 6
  • HSK 3.0*: HSK 7-9
  • TOCFL*: TOCFL Band C.1

Again, I’m not too familiar with HSK system, but I have been doing some LTL’s HSK 5 classes and I can say I am comfortable with the level and pace. One of the teachers noted that my reading skill is probably a little bit beyond HSK 5, so I would say your software is pretty accurate :slight_smile:

Regarding the “so-so” button, I usually chose it when I knew how to read the words but wasn’t 100% sure of what it means.
For example: 政变 , i know the 2 characters individually, but the meaning turns out to be "coup d’etat ". I was thinking “change of government or political revamp”… haha.

Definitely a great tool to practice :slight_smile:


so doing your test regularly is another possibility to gain confidence. The font is different, and of course there are many characters I have never seen before, there are many I try to guess anyway and look at the components. That is an interesting approach to see how confident I am with what I think I should know.

That’s an interesting way of using the test indeed, at least one I didn’t think of!

Hi Andreas,

Thanks for the kind feedback. I’ll add a “don’t ask twice the same word” policy, I should have thought of it!

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